An FBI officer today met Thane Police officials and gathered and shared details about the probe into a multi-crore call centre scam, whose victims were US citizens who lost millions of dollars amid signs that the magnitude of the racket may be bigger than estimated initially. Sohel Daud, a senior agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who arrived here this morning, met senior officers, including Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, at the Police headquarters here. The American security and crime-fighting agency came into picture after it emerged that the victims of the call centre racket were US citizens. Talking to reporters after the meeting, Singh said exchange of information between the Thane Police and the US agency would help in identifying those behind the racket in which lakhs of American citizens had been duped. The fraud is of a big magnitude which cannot be estimated at this stage, he said. "We will verify the information which the FBI has shared with us. It will help in our investigation. The FBI team also appreciated our efforts (in uncovering the scam)," Joint Commissioner of Police Ashutosh Dumbre told PTI. The FBI officer will be in the city for a few more days and question those arrested in connection with the scam, police sources said. Police have issued a Look out circular (LOC) to nab Sagar Dharmesh Thakkar, the alleged mastermind of the scam, which operated out of nearly a dozen call centres, whose associates posed as US tax officers and extorted money from American residents by threatening raids. Crime Branch teams are also looking for Thakkar and authorities at the international borders, airports and sea ports have been alerted to thwart his attempt to leave the country, Dumbre said. Police unearthed the scam, involving more than Rs 500 crore, last week after raiding seven call centres in Mira Road locality.
The racket had been going on for a few months, he added.
The daily transactions of the seven call centres stood at around Rs 1.5 crore. After the raids, police shut down four more call centres in Thane where the daily transaction was about Rs 50 lakh, the Joint Commissioner of Police said.
Police have so far arrested 71 people in connection with the case. Some of the call centres involved in the racket were run illegally from the premises of Hari Om IT Park, Universal Outsourcing Services and Oswal House on Mira Road.
The callers used to seek financial and bank details of US citizens and if the victims refused to disclose the information, they would even allegedly threaten them with dire consequences, including legal action and penalties.
(Reopens BOM 24) Meanwhile, a magistrate's court in Thane extended the police custody of eight of the accused today. Police told Judicial Magistrate A M Katte that within a period of just two months, from June 22 to September 23 this year, three call centers from Mira Road had collected a whooping Rs nine crore through the scam. Assistant Commissioner of Police Mukund Hatote gave this information to the court while seeking further police custody for eight of the 13 accused. These eight accused were members of the core group of the conspirators, he said. The court remanded them in police custody upto next Monday.